Pro-Brexit thinktank forced to change name after calling itself an ‘institute’ without permission


A thinktank, set up by pro-Brexit Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, has been forced to change its name after it called itself an “institute” without permission. 

The word “institute” is protected by law and can only be used by organisation if either Companies House or the Business Secretary grant permission for it to do so.

This is only done if it is believed that research is being undertaken at the “highest level” or the professional body is of the “highest standing”. 

The Institute for Free Trade (IFT), launched by Mr Hannan at an event that was controversially given permission by Boris Johnson to take place at a Foreign Office venue, used the term “institute” in numerous places on its website.

The thinktank, which is officially registered as the Initiative for International Trade Ltd, has now opted to call itself the IFT, with no explanation of what the initials stand for. 

Companies House said it was aware of the IFT’s use of the term and would be making contact, the Observer reported.

“It is an offence to use a sensitive word set out in regulations in a business name without the prior approval of the secretary of state,” a spokeswoman said. 

“The offence is committed by the company and every officer of the company. The person(s) guilty of an offence is liable to a fine.”

A spokeswoman for the IFT told the Observer: “Established as a not-for-profit earlier in the year, the IFT now has a registered office and permanent staff, and is taking advice from Companies House regarding the trading name of IFT.”